Recently Chick-fil-A opened their first New York City restaurant. Located one measly block away from the our offices, we of course had to try it out.
So, nearly $50 in fried chicken sandwich goodness later, we were pretty satisfied. Matter of fact, we all thought it was damned tasty. Of course, that's where our unanimous agreement ended.
Now if there's one thing consistently true about New Yorkers and NYC, it's that we're perpetually in a state of flux and unhappy about it. People, native or not-- and regardless of what percentage of the City's population is native New Yorkers at this moment in time --change.
Sure, there are some ineffable qualities of a New Yorker, but we, like all humans, grow and age and collect experience. One of the most reliable NYC experiences is the "This Place Ain't What It Used to Be" sentiment, and no matter how you look at it, it will always ring true.
But there is kind of a systematic assault on the fabric of NYC. People call it "gentrification." Yes, it does basically amount to more affluent individuals or businesses filling space previously occupied by long term, usually native, usually lower-income residents.
But it's way more than just a southern chicken franchise opening near Herald Square. Neighborhoods all across the City have felt the effects of gentrification enclaves warping the area's character. But Chick-fil-A is a good example of the type of businesses with which many New Yorkers take issue.
Now, spots that exist clearly as a result of the gentrification of an area, we're calling g-spots. Not everybody knows they're there, they may be hard to find, and you might feel guilty about enjoying what they have to offer.
A crass analogy? Probably, but not nearly as offensive as the underlying consequences gentrified chicken may have on your hood. Gentrification affects much more than just eateries, but with Chick-fil-A being, you know, Chick-fil-A, let's examine how it works based around restaurants/bars.
1. An over-excitement about novelty
bridiemaydeacon Yummy Halloween whopper and pumpkin spice latte #Yummy #Halloween #Novelty #BurgerKing #BringOnTheGreenPoop 🙈
In a fully rational world, people would only go to restaurants because the food is extra ordinary. But in 2015 in NYC, people go places and do things simply for the novelty factor. It's ironic, it's throwback, it's whatever.
So of course when a controversial franchise from outside NYC opens, people flip out because it's something we didn't have yesterday.
There's also the offensive-appeal, a selfie in front of Chick-fil-A sends the message of "IDGAF about your feelings" as much as it does "I love tasty chicken."
Just as importantly though, transplants love this stuff.
Many of them have enough cash to spend their way home without going anywhere, meaning, the ways they spend their money has a lot to do with what businesses are attracted to a given area, which, as you can see elsewhere, cascades into a tumult of useless garbage.
2. Drives rent up
cityfoundry What is Boerum Hill gonna do without Jessies? Best deli in the hood #jessiespricedout #boerumhill #brooklyn #renthike #bestdeli #deli #neighborhood #community
NYC restauranteurs have to operate under the assumption that if they are successful, they will be priced out of their own neighborhood before too long. And it's true. The atmosphere a successful restaurant ushers into a neighborhood has the potential to change that neighborhood in big ways.
The fact is that if one "trendy hotspot" opens and does consistently well, more will follow in the vicinity. If landlords realize they can jack up the rent to price out tenants in order to attract new tenants who will pay higher rates, then it's basically all over for whoever lived/did business in that hood.
Case in point: we've seen 75 bodegas close this year alone. Why? Their rents keep skyrocketing. This bodega is even offering their front window on AirBnB to make the extra money they'll need to handle their upcoming rent hike. It's going for $329/night.
And as we've seen, no institution is safe regardless of location. We lost F.A.O. Schwartz (for the time being) this year because of the high rent. Yes, Midtown isn't safe.
Now, Is there a direct correlation between a fast food chicken spot and high rents? No, not a direct one. There's a tangential association, and that might be more dangerous in that the less discernible the pattern is, the more "out of nowhere" the consequences hit you.